Tag Archives: US chamber of commerce

Where California Businesses That Support Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Should Go

If you go to the website for the US Chamber of Commerce (USCOC), America’s “voice of business” that claims to represent the interests of over 3 million businesses, it feels like you’ve found the site for a right wing advocacy group. There are clips from FOX News (that aren’t making fun of them), attacks on healthcare and financial regulatory reform, and links to Wall Street Journal op-eds claiming that America has more to fear from the political influence of labor unions than from corporations with annual profits in the billions. The implication is clear — American businesses have right wing values.

However, this assertion was challenged in 2009 when USCOC announced its opposition to attempts by the federal government to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. USCOC said that doing so would “strangle the economy”, called for a “Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century” as if human-caused climate change was yet to be proven, and threatened to sue the EPA if it decided to act without holding the trial. In response, Nike resigned from USCOC’s board of directors, and major companies like Apple, Pacific Gas and Electric, PNM Resources and Exelon left USCOC completely.

It turns out that when it comes to climate change, US businesses aren’t so conservative after all. That’s why a group like American Businesses for Clean Energy (ABCE) is so important. And if you own a business and believe the US should be doing more to fight climate change and help support the clean energy economy (which is creating jobs at 2.5 times the rate as the rest of the economy), you should seriously consider joining ABCE.

ABCE represents over 2,500 businesses of all shapes and sizes, including big companies like Gap Inc. and Warner Music Group as well as small local businesses from Al’s Painting in Ann Arbor, MI to Zoey’s Pizza in Manchester, NH. You don’t need to be a business that focuses on green products or services to join — all are welcome. There are no fees or dues to pay, no meetings to attend, no further obligations, and ABCE will not engage in any lobbying on your behalf. You don’t need to resign from any other business coalitions. All you have to do to join is visit ABCE’s website and enter some basic information about your business.

That’s it. You’re done. But you will have done something incredibly important.

Congress needs to know that USCOC does not speak for you, and that there are businesses of every kind in every state that support strong climate and clean energy legislation. They need to know that you don’t buy the right wing’s scaremongering that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will ruin the economy, especially when there is so much evidence that moving to a clean energy economy will create much-needed jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil while improving the health of both people and the environment. You will have told Congress that your business is ready for a cleaner, sustainable, more prosperous future, and you want them to pass the legislation needed to make it happen. And while California is clearly a leader in green businesses as well as environmental awareness, CA businesses are currently underrepresented in ABCE. That’s got to change.

If you own a business, you are in a unique position of influence, and joining ABCE is a great, easy way to help the economy and the environment. If you don’t own a business, you can help by telling friends who are business owners about ABCE or recommend it to businesses that you frequent.

If history has shown us anything, it’s that when businesses speak, Congress listens. ABCE will make sure your voice is heard.  

Better Business for California

The stance taken by the US Chamber of Commerce on climate change is damaging the confidence Americans have in business’ ability to respond to current challenges. The Chamber has been fighting climate change legislation tooth and nail on behalf of the US coal industry that makes up a very small segment of their membership. Other business have taken notice, as the list of companies leaving the Chamber is growing. The Chamber chose to entrench its stance on the lead up to the Copenhagen climate conference and this resulted in the departure of Exelon Corp, Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources, Mohawk Fine Papers, and Apple.

The Chamber is relying on technology advancements to fix problems that are happening here and now. It only requires simple science to realize that burning coal now is harming our planet now. So waiting for those technological advancements to happen is not solving the problem – it is maintaining the status quo. The problem is that the status quo has deep pockets and the ability to fund campaigns against politicians that will not vote to maintain this status quo. Democrats should be on alert. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue recently laid out his marching orders at his “State of American Business” speech. “We’re not in presidential politics … but we’re going to be in a lot of politics in the House and Senate and judicial politics of this country,” stated Donohue from Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington.

Donohue is trying to frame the argument as a “for us or against us” battle (sound familiar in Washington?). He trying to paint the picture that all business in America, large and small, should be supporting the Chamber on this issue because voting for climate change legislation is an immediate death sentence for job and economic growth. “Congress, the administration and the states must recognize that our weak economy simply could not sustain all the new taxes, regulations and mandates now under consideration,” Donohue said. You better believe that those who vote for support any of “taxes, regulations and mandates” will be in the cross-hairs come the mid-term elections.

“We are not crazy or outside the mainstream,” says David Chavern, the Chamber’s COO. “We’ve been around for almost 100 years because we’ve done pretty good at figuring out what’s needed for the business community to be successful and we are going to be around for another 100 years.”

I disagree. When an economic force like Apple, with its millions of consumers, departs because it is at odds with the Chamber’s climate change stance then you are outside of the mainstream. The writing is being sketched on the wall and not all business agree with the Chambers stance. This is why I, and my small business, joined the group American Business for Clean Energy. In California, for example, Craton Equity Partners, Gap Inc., Serious Materials, Propel Software Corporation, and several others have already joined American Business for Clean Energy.  This group was started to prove that American business, large and small, can and will support climate change legislation that will have a real impact on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. There are 1097 business from shore to shore that have signed on to show their support for clean energy legislation for 2010 and now my business is one of them.

Business owners, I urge you to sign your business up too. Take a stand that Donohue and his pals don’t represent your view point on climate change. Consumers, I urge you to show your support for these business and encourage your local shops and favorite retailers to get on board too.

Just found this, you can follow American Business For Clean Energy on Facebook here. And on Twitter here.

In the end, I think businesses large and small can be a positive force for change in our country. Not a reactionary roadblock that keeps us stuck in the past.